In an increasingly complex media landscape, media audits are becoming ever more important.
Yet, each media auditing firm approaches the task with a different set of methodologies, levels of expertise, and objectivity.
That’s why choosing the right auditor is crucial.
So how can advertisers choose the right media specialist to carry out their audits? In this article, we explore eight key factors to consider when choosing the right media auditor.
A quick recap: What is media auditing?
Media auditing simplifies the complex media ecosystem, ensures best practices are applied, and unlocks hidden growth and cost saving opportunities for clients.
When done well, it examines and scrutinises everything from the inputs, strategy, and quality of media planning through to the nuances within your contract and invoices.
This is even more imperative for challenger brands:
- Media auditing identifies areas where your advertising spend is underperforming against the market and can be improved.
- This in turn, secures increased quality of media placement and positioning.
- Enabling advertisers to get greater value for money from their advertising budget.
8 key factors when choosing a media auditor
A media audit should deliver so much more than reassurance around pricing. To really add value to your business, media auditors must bring the right combination of qualifications, experience, methodologies and approach to the task.
But what attributes do you need to look for when choosing a media auditor?
Key factor #1: A 360 holistic approach
A robust media audit critically depends on a 360 degree view. The ‘ideal’ audit is comprehensive, thorough, and complete. It covers the entire media process from beginning to end, incorporating the strategic, financial, process, compliance-to-contract measures, and even the advertisers' internal processes.
What’s more, when audits come from a place of genuinely wanting to improve and enhance the relationship, the results usually drive greater transparency with improved mutual understanding and appreciation between the advertiser and the media agency.
Key factor #2: Direct access to senior expertise
Your results will most likely be challenged by your agencies, especially if results are linked to remuneration, therefore you need direct access to senior experts, working as an extension of your team.
Senior expertise is also key because media is treated differently from one market to another. And if you don't fully understand that, then you can have inaccurate results.
If your auditor has senior experience, it will typically translate into a more efficient audit and avoid generic questions being asked. It will also enable them to provide more relevant value-added services and translate their analysis into concrete actions that your business can take.
During negotiations with your potential new media auditing firm, ask to speak with senior partners and get to know the firm from top to bottom.
Key factor #3: Robust methodology
Another very good attribute to have is a robust methodology. Your auditor should have proven methodologies which are accepted by the industry as robust and fair with consistency of deliverables across markets, yet tailor-made for each market to address local trading dynamics.
The methodology should look at everything related to media – not just pricing or financials.
But what we tend to see is that media audit methodologies vary depending on the profile of the advertiser. Bigger advertisers would require deep dives audits in specific areas, whereas smaller/medium sized advertisers would require a more holistic approach to auditing, especially if they have never done auditing before.
Key factor #4: Reputation of the audit firm
Another important factor in selecting the right auditor is to consider their reputation and how well they will work with your media agency. Note whether firm representatives are responsive, friendly and helpful.
Testimonials and case studies are also a good indication of a media audit firm’s reputation in the industry.
Key factor #5: Qualified chartered accountants
When looking for a media agency contract compliance audit, the first thing to look for is that the media auditing firm has chartered accountants. No agency in the world will let your auditor review the books if they're not chartered accountants.
Being a chartered accountant is a means to ensure that everything will remain confidential. Because if there's any breach of confidentiality a chartered accountant could lose their licence.
And therefore, there is a different protocol that they need to follow when looking at very sensitive information. In order to verify that you're getting your fair share of AVB’s, they need to look at all their clients spend with that media owner and understand how much they have managed to negotiate the rebates. So there's a lot of sensitive information that a person may need to check, and therefore, no agency will allow for a media auditor to come in if they're not a chartered accountant.
Key factor #6: Agency-side expertise
In addition, when it comes to media agency contract compliance, it is to ‘know where the bodies are buried’. What I mean by that is, we tend to see the top accounting firms jumping into the contract compliance waggon.
While they might be chartered accountants, they don't have the media expertise.
They’ve often never worked in a media agency and therefore they don't know where the bodies are buried. And they don't know the key questions you need to ask.
We tend to find that the best media auditors are those who used to work on the agency side.
They know exactly how it works. They know exactly where to look and make the entire process a lot easier.
Key factor #7: Objectivity and independence
The media auditor’s market knowledge, expertise and professional ethics are essential.
Especially when doing internal media reviews, you need to make sure the media auditor is very savvy and is an expert, having also worked on the agency side and on the auditing side. It's also helpful to have an auditor who has experience on the brand side. This means they can fully understand the challenges that the brands are facing.
Importantly, to provide confidence in the objectivity of their evaluations and findings, ideally media auditors should not have direct or indirect commercial connections with a media agency or media owner or supplier.
Key factor #8: Ongoing support for decision making and growth
A good media auditor is also a business advisor in regular contact with you throughout the year to bring to your attention matters that are relevant to your business. Agile decision-making often demands ongoing support. This is where your media auditor can help.
Your media auditor should be a business partner who is able to provide deep analysis, assurance and future-focused business advice.
Continuity of audit staff working on your organisation’s audit will also enable a more efficient audit year-on-year.
Final checklist for selecting the right media auditor
Once you’re ready to start your shortlist, here’s a final checklist to run through:
- Identify your internal media audit champions; and appoint supporting teams.
- Prepare your media audit briefing and RFP; establish budget, requirements, and the type of audit you require.
- Create a shortlist of media auditors; weigh-up skill sets, experience and knowledge, and develop selection criteria.
- Review responses to RFP; Ensure the right fit based on the above key factors (expertise, knowledge, skills, methodology and approach).
- Make your selection; Choose the right media auditor based on your profile, looking at their clients' list. If they only work with Top 100 global advertisers, and you are a smaller advertiser, their offering most likely won’t be suitable for you.
Going beyond the basics
We hope you found the considerations and key factors for selecting a media audit firm useful.
While all media auditors will provide a level of reassurance around pricing, what advertisers really need is a complete and holistic view of overall performance to fuel growth on an ongoing basis.
Don’t forget: While price is important, it’s not the only factor you should be concerned about. Qualifications, service offerings, experience, reputation and client support are equally important and will add value to the partnership.
At Abintus, we provide a far more comprehensive and transparent audit process. Our robust methodologies, combined with over 20 years agency, brand, and audit-side experience can help you secure increased media value year-on-year.
Our goal is to provide a positive reset of client/agency relationships based on trust and transparency, delivering benefits to all sides.
Contact us now for a free consultation.